Updated: May 5
You’ve been called back for an interview; what should you focus on now? There are many critical interview strategies that job seekers can use regardless of whether they are interviewing face-to-face or over a video conferencing platform (see our post about Acing the Video Interview in 5 Easy Steps here). These impactful tips will help you successfully navigate through the interview from start to finish.
One of the most important parts of the interview process is preparation.
Not only does in-depth preparation enhance your perception in the eyes of the interviewer, it also increases your self-confidence. Interview preparation involves several key activities including research, knowing how to communicate your value, understanding how your skills relate to the job you are seeking, and highlighting your achievements listed on your resume. This is of course in addition to familiarizing yourself with common interview questions and scenarios.
Researching and gaining a basic perspective about the hiring company is a pivotal component of successfully preparing for the interview. Take some time to explore their mission and values; this information is often easy to find with a simple internet search. You will be better able align your skills, experience, and values to the position once you know the nature of the business.
Additionally, you will want to have a solid understanding of the job requirements, including the location you’ll be working in. While fully remote jobs are on the rise, many jobs are still only temporarily remote with many positions requiring the employees’ presence on location intermittently. If the position you are pursuing has an in-person component, make sure to visit the location even if it’s a casual “drive-by” to get an understanding of the potential commute, available parking, and safety of the office location.
Another point of interest is the way that current employees feel about working at the company. Again, there are many sources of employee reviews available online that you can browse to get a better idea of the day-to-day work experience. While current employees’ accounts can provide useful insight, some posting are from former and sometimes disgruntled people so make sure to keep this in mind as you investigate this resource.
Role-playing common interview questions and thinking of how you might answer them is a useful tool. One example that can be tricky is the age old “tell me about yourself” question. Interviewees often make the mistake of answering this question with personal information such as the town they were born in or their hobbies. Remember, the purpose of the meeting is to relate your background to the job you are being interviewed for and to prove how your experience matches the position.
After preparing fully, you can enter the interview confident, prepared, and able to focus on what separates you from the competition.
While it may sound cliché, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Remember to dress professionally; you can always dress casually if the company culture is less formal once you have the job. In a face-to-face interview, the interview starts as soon as you enter the building.
Be friendly and professional with everyone you encounter pre-interview and make sure that your phone is off before you arrive.
Speaking of arrival, always show up early but not too early – 10 to 15 minutes for an in-person interview and 3 to 5 minutes for a video interview is more than adequate.
As you might expect, the essential core of the interview is the questions. Your research and practice will have prepared you for common questions and ways to relate your skills to the needs of the company. The next step is communication. Speak clearly, pace yourself, and maintain appropriate eye contact; be focused on the interviewer and the information they are sharing with you. Be aware of your body language and maintain an attentive but comfortable position. Active listening is a way to describe responsiveness when the interviewer is speaking such as leaning in, nodding, and taking brief notes.
The last step is following up with the person or people who interviewed you. Make sure to collect business cards or write down the names and titles of anyone involved in your interview so that you can address thank you messages accordingly. Always thank them for their time and reiterate a specific point or two that you discussed during the interview. This shows them that you were paying attention and are genuinely interested in the position. Be sure to send your thank you email soon after your interview, typically within 24 hours.
There’s a lot to think about when you land the interview to ensure a positive outcome. Everything from the work you do before the interview, what you wear the day of the meeting, and how you interact throughout the interview process affects your chances of being selected for the position. It may seem like a lot to keep track of all at once but with solid preparation and planning, you will have set yourself up for success.